Today, MPs have published a report indicting the UK’s excessive focus on border security, leading JRS UK to once again call for safe and legal routes to migrate and seek asylum.
MPs argue “A policy that focuses exclusively on closing borders will drive migrants to take more dangerous routes, and push them into the hands of criminal groups.” The report by the Foreign Affairs Committee is published in the wake of the tragic deaths of 39 people whose bodies were found in a lorry container in Essex the week before last. The report’s authors said that the incident illustrated the dangers of current migration policy and “should serve as a wake- up call…to reassess…[the] approach to irregular migration”.
Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service said: “This report is further evidence of the harm caused by a migration policy obsessed with making movement as difficult as possible. A new approach, which makes it easier for people to move when they need to and truly prioritises the protection of human life, is urgently required.”
The Committee called for the government to establish more pathways to seek asylum from outside of Europe, and to encourage other European countries to do likewise, echoing longstanding calls for safe and legal routes from the Jesuit Refugee Service. JRS in Europe is involved in advocating for humanitarian visas for those seeking sanctuary.
Sarah Teather commented on the recommendation: “We welcome the call for more pathways to seek asylum from outside of Europe. At JRS UK, we work with Vietnamese victims of trafficking. They were vulnerable to traffickers because there were no regular routes by which they could migrate. Many asylum seekers we serve have also been forced to make dangerous journeys, because the alternative was certain death if they stayed where they were. This will continue for as long as governments in safe countries cut off routes to reach them.”
The Committee raised concerns about the UK’s role in international approaches to irregular migration: it criticised the policy of funding the Libyan government, among others, to intercept and detain migrants trying to reach Europe, which it found to cause serious human rights abuses, strengthen armed groups, and undermine stability in the region. It also called for the resumption of search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea amid a rising death rate in that context, and found evidence of “dire conditions” for migrants in northern France.